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Who has heard Bharati's best songs?

Bombay Jayashree, classical vocalist who loves rendering Bharati, says his best compositions are still not popular

Do you perform for the connoisseur or the untrained music enthusiast? This pressure at times puts artistes through an identity crisis. Some begin to wonder where their true talent lies: in classical music or popular music.

But there are also those who feel true experimentation comes from a deep understanding of the classical tradition. They can sing both classical and popular music, and still remain true to themselves.

Bombay Jayashree would appear to many as a hardcore classical performer, attending concerts, practising and musing over what to sing at her next concert. In 1989, she first came across the poetry of Subramania Bharati, the nationalist Tamil poet. Her resoponse was an album titled Ethanai Kodi, which contains a new style of presenting Bharati.

"As I read through each of his poems, I developed greater regard for him. I was awed at how he could look at things with such profundity and clarity," says Jayashree.

"Each poem is marked with a raga and tala in which he wanted it to be sung. In the classical realm, Chinnanchiru kiliye and Theerada villyattu pillai are much sung, but most of his spectacular compositions are still not popular," contends Jayashree.

Ethnai Kodi has a fine balance of Karnatak and Western tunes. While the orchestra arrangement is Western in most songs, some, like Ninnai charana show the style of a traditional kriti.

"A song like Ethanai kodi sounds powerful with a drum and guitar orchestra," explains Jayashree. Her singing remains firmly rooted in the Karnatak tradition.

An uncompromisingly classical voice on a modern orchestra is how you could describe Jayashree's songs outside the concert realm. While she tried her hand at composing for some Bharati songs, the overall scoring for the album was done by her brother Sabesh.

The title song was shot on video and shown on MTV. Jayashree feels that the telecast didn't create much awareness about Bharati, as she had expected it would.

L Subramani

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